By now, most of us are aware that the way we use data is fundamental to business success, irrespective of the size of the company or the industry it’s in. However, it’s not always clear what this means in practice.
A modern company is exposed to innumerable forms of data. Whether it’s customer details, industry trends or internal reporting, it’s a daily reality that can have a significant impact on the bottom line. There are many ways to approach it, which means working out how to make the best use of what’s available can seem overwhelming.
Even in a small organisation, the same data can be treated very differently depending on the individual or the situation. This can lead to inefficiencies, inaccuracy and making less of what’s available. The ideal scenario is to establish an agreed approach, regardless of the setting. To do this, there must be processes which everyone follows. This is where data governance comes in.
Data governance is a way to create consistent methods for how data is treated. One of the aims is to instil greater confidence in data, encouraging wider use and ultimately resulting in the benefits that come from a having a handle on it. Below are a few examples of where and how good data governance can benefit your organisation.
For data to be usable, it has to be easy to access and easy to understand. This is often one of the main stumbling blocks to incorporating data into processes. Everyone should be clear what it means, how it’s collected and where to find it. Data governance could establish a designated location for storing company data and clear guidance on how and where to apply it.
Reliability can be a major factor in whether or not people make use of data. Data governance can set protocols that help ensure the quality of the data, improving accuracy by cutting out simple errors in the way it’s collected. For example, manual data entry is more likely to introduce errors than machine-based data collection. A data governance policy could prohibit manual entry whenever an automated solution is available, which would limit the potential for human error.
Despite the same data often being used by different departments, it’s still very common for teams to operate in silos. In practice, this means different processes and a mixture of formats and platforms being used to measure the same thing. The result is duplicated effort in storing and preparing that data, and unnecessary cost. Data governance can create alignments among departments and projects, ensuring work is done only once, and objectives are achieved more quickly.
In industries where there are significant compliance responsibilities, a lot of time and effort can be spent on getting everything in line with regulations. Data governance is an effective way to incorporate regulatory requirements into everyday processes. Defining how data can be used, as well as mandating certain security protocols as part of routine practices, can help ensure compliance not just with GDPR, but with industry-specific regulations as well.
These are just a few practical examples, but the applications of good data governance could extend into every aspect of your business. From auditing your Google Tag Manager set-up to business intelligence reporting, better data governance could help you unlock your data’s potential.
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